At the Nov. 14 meeting of the Mokena School District 159 Board of Education, Director of Business Operations John Troy presented the board with an outline for the district's proposed 2012 tax levy, which came to a total of $13,052,000.
The board has agreed to hold a public hearing on the levy, even though state law does not require one, after which the board will vote to approve a final version. It must be filed before the last Tuesday in December. Since that deadline falls on Christmas this year, Troy suggested that the board vote on the levy no later than its Dec. 19 meeting so that the paperwork could be filed with the state before the deadline.
The board also revisited its discussion about the district's intergovernmental agreement with the Mokena Park District. The board voted to adopt a draft of that agreement pending legal review at its Oct. 3 meeting. However, a number of changes to the content of the contract have rendered that vote void, necessitating more discussion and another vote at a future meeting.
"We had, as a board, voted on a lease subject to changes only in the legalese," Board President Patrick Markham said. "What has transpired is there have been substantive changes, which moots or negates the past vote. So as we sit tonight, there is no board-approved contract, and we're here again bringing it back for discussion."
Dan LaValle, vice-president elect of the Mokena Burros athletic organization, spoke during the public comment portion of the meeting to thank the district for allowing the Burros to use the district's fields and to offer his organization's help with maintaining the fields. Board President Patrick Markham took the necessity of revisiting the park district agreement as an opportunity to suggest language in the agreement to explicitly grant facility usage permissions to the Burros in the same way that the agreement currently gives permission to the Lincoln Way Blue Demons baseball organization.
"How could we name the Blue Demons as if we are a team, and not be discriminatory but not also identify the Mokena Youth Athletic Association?" Markham said, "Because that is the two major groups that are making use of this."
However, Board Member Scott Peters criticized Markham's suggestion, even though he also supported including the Burros in the agreement. He said that Markham was going against statements he made when the board was originally discussing the agreement in September.
"When it was brought up to add the Burros in, you were against it," Peters said.
Markham said the reason he didn't support including the Burros in the agreement at the time was because he believed the park district would be responsible for specifying the teams' access to fields.
"As president of the board, I am informed now that the park district's purview has changed," Markham said. "Therefore, I will do what I see fit and best for the community."
The board agreed to table further discussion on the matter until its next meeting in order to give all members time to individually review the changes in the contract before voting. Of particular importance, said Markham, is the necessity for board member Michael Ford's review. Ford was not at the Wednesday meeting; however, he was the once who did much of the work in drafting and negotiating the contract.
Other business at the meeting included a vote to approve a fund balance policy, which states that the district would seek to maintain an average year-end fund balance between 35 and 65 percent of its annual expenditures. The motion was passed in a 4-2 vote, with board members Scott Peters and Mark Franceschini voting against it.
The board also voted unanimously to approve the purchase of a 2012 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD pickup truck to replace the district's current maintenance and snow plowing truck for a total cost of $26,706, substantially less than the $30,000 that was budgeted for a new truck.
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